Shoaib Akhtar - An ode to the flying machine
The bowling mark, the run-up, the stride, the leap and the delivery - the words precisely define a fast bowler. What distinguishes one from the rest is the magnitude of velocity, aggression and the miles per hour that one is able to conquer. Fascination reaches peaks when you see Shoaib Akhtar integrating these bits. Oh boy, he created a different era of fast bowling.
Heart-beat levels - maximum, aggression - maximum, dedication - maximum, speed - maximum. This guy used to rush in like a leopard and used to clean up the batsmen like a lion preying on a deer in the jungle. This was the timestamp where we witnessed the stumps getting castled. Falling in love gives you a burst of energy and excitement. Hold on, if that gives you the goosebumps then you have not witnessed Akhtar dismantling the furniture into two.
Save the stumps or save the rib cage, knees or the elbow - never before have the batsmen been in such a dilemma. Flat pitch, a dead rubber or a turning track - he was the king of all turfs. If somebody can castle Sachin Tendulkar neatly, he has to be a giant. Entertainment, delight, happiness and what not? He has been a guy who has always lived by his sword. To be frank, he has also been someone who has died by his sword.
Fear is the most deadly aspect for a batsman. He was able to infuse a large amount of it to the batsmen taking the guard. To add to the pace, the glares he exchanged infused additional weight to his bowling. I pity the non-striker who had to witness it all. You send out the stumps for a walk, celebrate with your forearms held wide and fly across the field. He created a horror story for the batsmen to follow.
The textbook says defend a few before going in for the big shots. By doing this, you will be able to sight the ball very well. On a swinging green turf, will you ever sight a ball coming in at 160 kmph? All that you can do is wipe the sweat off your forehead and pray to God that either the ball kisses your stumps or goes past you without rubbing off your body. With Akhtar bowling it was not about one’s integrity, it was about preventing the bones in your body to multiply. I correct myself when I say the ball shall kiss the stumps I do not mean a peck, I mean a wild smooch. This was the story that Shoaib Akhtar used to re-write on every other outing.
Theatrics - both on and off the field, Akhtar has been controversy’s favorite child. He has gone in for runs too. Who doesn’t? We as Indians remember Sachin whacking him all over in the 2003 world cup. But there is more to this man. Ask the batsmen who have faced him, a shiver will still run through their spine. The Rawalpindi express had never curtailed his pace to prolong his career. He played a few, got banned, got injured, played another few and the cycle continued. This is how it should be. He was mad and you got to be a little cynic to be a fast bowler.